I hope no-one’s counting, because I seem to be making an awful lot of meringue pies lately!
The problem is, every time I ask the friends and family which dessert they’d like me to make when they visit, it’s pretty much always a meringue pie! Doesn’t matter if it’s lemon, lime or any other fruit. So long as meringue is involved, it doesn’t seem to matter! Mind you, as a nation, we’re practically nurse-fed on Pavlova, so meringue is kind of in our psyche.
This last weekend a lime meringue pie was duly requested, and so this time around I’ve gone with Anna Olson’s Key Lime Meringue Pie recipe. Not, of course, that we have Key Limes here in New Zealand, so I substituted some New Zealand grown limes I snaffled from a neighbour for $1.00 a bag (a total bargain!).
I made a few changes to the recipe. Firstly, I used a gingernut biscuit crust (using my own home-made gluten-free gingernut biscuits) instead of the plain Graham Cracker or Digestive biscuits. I thought the sharp ginger taste would be a nice contrast to the limes, but actually I think it was just a little too strong. As much as everyone liked it, it was slightly overpowering. Next time, I’d probably just add some ginger spice to the plain biscuit mix. I also used my favourite Swiss meringue recipe that I use on pretty much all of my meringue pies. I love the dense, marshmallowy texture of Swiss (and Italian) meringues, and it also ensures the eggs are cooked and therefore not a risk for Salmonella bacteria (mind you, I use organic eggs, so it’s not a concern for me).
I’ve made a couple of different versions of lime pie before now – one with lime curd and meringue, and the other with traditional sweetened condensed milk, but with added whipped egg whites for a light, aerated mousse-like filling (with whipped cream topping). This time, I opted for the stock standard filling recipe which most everyone seems to use, though I did add meringue rather than cream on top (which handily used up the left-over egg whites).
I loved the result – a very smooth, rich (and tart!) filling that ended up providing the perfect contrast to the billowing sweet meringue on top. Based on the reviews on the night, this version looks set to be the keeper!
- 1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (or ground digestive biscuits) - I used ground gluten-free gingernut biscuits
- 1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut (optional)
- 6 tablespoons (90g) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 tin (about 395g / 13.9 oz) sweetened condensed milk
- 1/2 cup fresh lime juice (Key lime if you have it)
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated lime zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 large egg yolks
- 4 large egg whites
- 175g (6.1 oz) caster sugar
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
- Stir the biscuit crumbs, coconut (if using) and melted butter together until crumbly (test by pinching some mixture between your fingers - if it holds, it's good. If it's too crumbly, add a little more melted butter) and press this into an ungreased 9-inch (23 cm) pie plate.
- Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then cool before filling.
- For the filling, reduce the oven temperature to 150°C (300°F). Whisk the condensed milk with the lime juice, zest and vanilla and then whisk in the egg yolks (save the whites for the meringue). Pour this into the cooled crust and bake for 30 minutes, until the filling no longer jiggles when the pan is moved. Cool the pie to room temperature. Once cooled, the pie can be chilled and topped with meringue later.
- Add the four egg whites into a medium mixing bowl. Add the sugar and whisk them together. Heat the mixture on a bain marie – bring a small amount of water to a simmer in a pan that is large enough to accommodate your mixing bowl.
- Place the bowl on top of the pan and make sure it doesn’t touch the water. Whisk the mixture for 2-3 minutes until the mixture becomes warm to the touch (if using a thermometer, you're aiming for 71°C or 160°F).
- Remove the bowl and beat the meringue using an electric whisk until its glossy and firm.
- Top the pie with the meringue and create peaks with the back of your spatula. Finally, using a kitchen blow torch, lightly brown the top of the meringue (otherwise put it in the oven for 10 or so minutes at about 200°C (400°F) until lightly browned – keep a close eye on it!
- If not serving straight away, put back into the fridge and take out about 10-15 minutes prior to serving.
Food Photography Info: Canon 550D (EOS Rebel T2i); Sigma 30mm 1.4 DC ‘Art’ lens / Natural lighting